RICHMOND -- A metal plating company housing large amounts of hazardous chemicals must clean up its property within 30 days, a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.
The ruling followed a request for a temporary restraining order by the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control to force Electro-Forming and its owners to immediately remove hazardous waste from their property on Nevin Avenue.
Department officials said they sought the court order to force compliance after repeated failings by the company.
"We have made several visits to the site," DTSC spokeswoman Tamma Adamek said. "It was clear we are dealing with a bad actor."
In March, investigators searched the site and discovered several problems, including cyanide drums being stored near other acids that, if mixed with cyanide, could produce a deadly gas, according to court papers.
The business is at 130 Nevin Ave., nestled among apartment buildings, single-family homes, parks and several community gardens.
The owners are identified in court papers as Marion Patigler, the estate of Gerhard Patigler, and the estate of Ingrid Patigler. The Department of Toxic Substances Control also alleged that Electro-Forming has illegally stored, treated and disposed of hazardous waste, in addition to improperly storing volatile wastes next to each other.
On Tuesday afternoon, several workers wearing masks and coveralls were seen rummaging through bins and drums at the site. A man who declined to give his name said the owner was not present and took a message.
The temporary restraining order includes strict compliance deadlines and requires Electro-Forming to immediately hire an authorized contractor to remove hazardous waste stored in various drums, containers and a 6,900-gallon "Baker tank" that Electro-Forming was allegedly using to illegally store plating waste that contains hazardous levels of cyanide and metals, according to a department news release.
If Electro-Forming fails to meet deadlines set for the removal work, the temporary restraining order also authorizes DTSC to complete the removal and recover its costs.
Richmond has beefed up its Code Enforcement Unit in recent years and even sued one of its own council members, Corky Boozé, to force him to clean up a property he runs that is littered with old cars, boats and other industrial supplies.¿
Boozé, who denies that his property is a public nuisance, on Wednesday slammed the city for not addressing what he called a "flagrant" violation of city codes and hazardous chemical storage at Electro-Forming, which he noted is in a residential neighborhood.
"There are real health hazards all over the city, in communities with children, and we don't do anything about it because we spend tax dollars and staff time investigating my properties," Boozé said.
Code Enforcement Director Tim Higares and City Manager Bill Lindsay did not respond to requests for comment.
Chad Davisson, the city's wastewater management officer, said his inspectors confirmed that Electro-Forming had no connection to the city's sewer line and that the city knew DTSC was investigating the site.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/SFBaynewsrogers.